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Quote of the Day

Tim DeChristopher:

"There is value in working within the democratic system, but first we need to create a democratic system."

Would be nice!

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CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall in his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person."

Look, I don't know if this guy's story checks out. I'm not one to buy into any Libertarian views. Some of his numbers seem preposterous. I thought once you put in your twenty in the Army you could count on an income stream thereafter. A fisking of this guy by Susan Faludi would come down hard, no doubt, but I don't know from which direction.

******
Last Statement

by Tom Ball

My story starts with the infamous slapping incident of April 2001. While putting my four year old daughter to bed, she began licking my hand. After giving her three verbal warnings I slapped her. She got a cut lip. My wife asked me to leave to calm things down.

When I returned hours later, my wife said the police were by and said I could not stay there that night. The next day the police came by my work and arrested me, booked me, and then returned me to work....

I am a regular guy, a coffee and cheeseburger type of fellow. As remarkable as my life has been, I figure that what happens to me must be happening to others as well. I was 48 years old when I got arrested here for my first time. So I went looking for the arrest numbers for domestic violence, this new group that I had unwilling joined. I could not find anything. So I wrote the U.S. Dept. of Justice in Washington. They wrote back that they did not keep track of domestic violence arrests. The FBI keeps track of all other crimes. How come not domestic violence? I thought some low level clerk was blowing me off....

The first thing I found was a study not of domestic violence arrests but of domestic violence injuries for 18 unnamed states and the D.C. in the year 2000. In the study 51% of the injuries were 'no injuries'. So I knew I had a study of police reports. Who else but a police officer would record no injuries? I populated that out to the 50 states and came up with 874,000 arrest in the year 2000....

Labeling someone's action as domestic violence in American in the 21st century is akin to labeling someone a Jew in Germany in the 1930's. The entire legal weight of the state is coming down on him. But I consider myself lucky. My family was destroyed. But that poor bastard in Germany had his family literally annihilated....

When then a man is arrested for domestic violence, one of two things can happen. If they are only dating and have separate apartments, then he can head home. But if they are living together, then this fellow has a real problem. Bail conditions and then a possible protective or restraining order prevent him from being with her. So he needs to find a new place to live at least until the charges are resolved. The King of his Castle is no longer allowed into his castle. A feminist name Pence who wrote that was absolutely giddy at that outcome....

If he has minor children, money will soon turn into an issue. Most men I know do not mind paying child support. They want their kids to have food on their plates, clothes on their backs, and a roof over their heads. But it does stress that man's finances. Child support is usually 33% of the man's gross income. Withholding for taxes, social security and health insurance can range up to 28% of his gross paycheck. So a man making $500 a week gross has only $825 monthly left over after withholding and child support. That is not enough money for an apartment here in Central Massachusetts. That does not include other expenses like heating, electric, gas, groceries, telephone, cable, car payment and car insurance. So he is in a financial hole....
*******

You might want to read the whole thing. I just don't know enough about the particulars of Tom Ball's life or of the public policy issues raised in his statement to comment further.

Here, by the way, is that one particular iconic photograph from the era of America in Vietnam.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

To actually even TRY to make an equivalence between a non-violent supporter of our environment, who is being railroaded by our government to an idiot who ADMITS he slapped a 4 year old child hard enough to cut her lip for the crime of "licking his hand"? just makes me think I fell down the rabbit-hole. Not to mention I'm in serious need of some brain bleach and a shower after reading the self-serving whining of that foul piece of excrescence that calls itself a father, who actually compares himself to a Jew in Hitler's Germany?!!. I certainly will not read "the rest of the story", and I have rarely felt so violated by anything I've read on this site, and that is the "terrible thing happening" here, not whatever happens to Mr. Ball.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

That, first of all, being labeled an abuser is so seriously damaging in today's culture.

Secondly, that King of his Castle crap, really tells you all you need to know about how he views his family. They aren't autonomous people capable of making their own decisions, with their own inherent rights, like not suffering from cruelty, they are his property, as he rules the roost.

Third, I am not one of those no spanking parents, but I do believe that doing it to older children is pointless, counterproductive, and borderline abusive, and I have nothing against parents who don't believe in it. To smaller children, a swat on the thigh with your fingertips that registers a miniscule amount of pain can sometimes be necessary to impart importance into their small underdeveloped brain pans, like say "Don't run into the street!". But to hit a small child, in the mouth, for whatever reason, is unforgivable.

Fourth, his "most men don't mind paying child support", if that's the case why are so many cases in arrears? And even by his own statement, he doesn't mind paying it, but really does it have to be so much?? "I want them to have food, but do I have to provide new clothes and help pay for the roof over their heads too. I don't have oussy rights to the mom anymore, should I have to pay for her home too!" And you know, I'd be perfectly fine if we lived in a world where non custodial parents didn't have to pay child support, because we had universal day care, health care and parenting stipends provided by the government, but I have a feeling Mr. Ball wouldn't agree with me.

Is it possible that our justice system can be perverted to hurt innocent people? Sure, but middle class employed men are rarely the target of such cases. Usually, it's poor underprivileged folk, DV and rape victims, minorities who are the targets and victims of such injustice,

It honestly reads like MRA crap to me, a subset that heavily intersects with Libertarian mindset.

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

Perhaps you can salvage things by posting a comment about the Tim DeChristopher situation below. As to whether it was "mission accomplished," you're thinking that perhaps I'm working to promote corporate profits at the expense of the environment. I'm not, but I won't try to convince you of that.

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

The grafs I chose did not convey the idea that a lot of Tom Ball's statement had to do with the courts and the nature of local and federal government bureaucracies. It seems like all of you who read the parent post focused in on the plight of Tim DeChristopher while I zeroed in on the comment about whether or not we have a democratic system.

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

Now here's a man who felt that he was caught up in a governmental legal and bureaucratic system that was unfair to him and, according to his research, more than a million other parents. In a statement, he laid out his case. I get it that he was not anyone who claimed to have a victim status that you recognize as valid nor was he a member of any minority group toward which you are ordinarily sympathetic nor was he engaged in advancing some cause that you find noble.

When I feel it's the right thing to do, I'll apologize to you for having troubled your beautiful mind. Allow me to pass along to you the good wishes of those hoping someday your district will become worthy of being represented by you, a place where "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

The system worked as it should, protecting his family from him, while ensuring he continued to provide for them.

I don't see what broken about that system.

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

Are you saying this guy's degeneration is a complete one off? I haven't the faintest idea of the number of domestic violence arrests that are made each year and whether they're on the rise. We've heard the commission rates of other types of crime are down, I guess that's because of the aging of the male population. I have to believe that, especially in these tough economic times, having a police record cuts down on your employment prospects.

Does anyone have an idea as to the number of children who are living in poverty in a home where a parent has been removed because of domestic violence? Maybe you're right, maybe the system is working just fine.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

another family member through the removal of the offender, then I think our system is working. And to state that the financial contributions of the offender mitigates the violent behavior enough to allow them access to more potential victims is as rational as the sentence of that rich guy in Florida to who killed 2 people while driving drunk, to house arrest, because he paid the widows a nice chunk of change-in other words money shouldn't enter into it. It's too bad our social safety network hasn't evolved to the degree it should, and no-one should suffer from poverty because of violent parents, but better poor than dead, or maimed.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

I broke down and skimmed the "last statement" (I have a life, so I couldn't bother reading this overwrought and very lengthy tome thoroughly), and in it, he calls for fire-bombing buildings? My potential constituents, hopefully, will not call for arson and murder as an answer to their problems, rather, a Green and peaceful one, such as Tim DeChristopher attempted. To compare the two is very troubling to me, and I would hope that other minds, beautiful or not, would recoil in horror at such attempts. Mr. Ball was obviously seriously mentally ill when he self-immolated, judging by his writing, and was most probably sick at the time he assaulted his child. He refused counselling, and spiralled deeper into denial and paranoia, and I am sad that our "system" failed him in that it couldn't make him undergo treatment and improve his mental status, like many others who are currently in our criminal justice system. But I am thankful he didn't hurt anyone else, and I hope that more people who react to stress by directing anger and violence towards others can get the treatment they need.

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

And my apologies for taking a cheap shot at you in my comment.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

Apology graciously accepted :-)

Submitted by dirac on

So it's not democratic (republic, not a democracy, remember?) because he cut his kid's lip and had to deal with the consequences of his actions? I don't get that. I also don't think there's any comparison between Vietnamese Buddhist self-immolation and this guy's trials and tribulations. It's all personal for him--what the big bad government did to him. The immolation in Vietnam can at the very least be seen as a statement against the constant real terrorism that our government imposed over there: rape, torture, killing (ah it's sounding familiar) were apart of that system. Not some social ostracism, divorce and child support. Give me a fucking break.

I bet Tom Ball did not die in Fire Samadhi either. Just sayin'.

Submitted by dirac on

Right, I think my comment--very inarticulate and imprecise--is more on the relative psychological maturity of each immolation. I am willing to bet my hard-mined Bitcoin (hah) that the monk did not suffer from a persecution complex.

Even IRS-suicide guy has a more compelling case.

Submitted by lambert on

well said on both counts

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

Vietnam: A History
Stanley Karnow 1983

(p. 279) On May 8, 1963, as Buddhists assembled in Hue to celebrate the 2527th birthday of the Buddha, the deputy province chief, a Catholic by the name of Major Dang Xi, enforced an old decree prohibiting them from flying their multicolored flag. A week earlier, however, he had encouraged Catholics there to display blue and white papal banners to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Thuc's ordination [as a Catholic clergyman -- Thuc being President Diem's older brother and head of the family clan]. The discrimination dismayed the Buddhists. Several thousand gathered peacefully in front of the city's radio station to listen to loudspeakers broadcast a speech by Tri Quang, a Buddhist leader.... The commander [Major Xi] ordered the crowd to disperse, then told his men to fire. The people stampeded. A woman and eight children died, either shot or trampled in the melee. Buddhist protests multiplied during the weeks that followed, and government troops aggravated the unrest by quelling them, sometimes brutally.

(p. 280) ...A force behind the aggressive Buddhist push was Tri Quang, a swarthy monk in his early forties...He met covertly in Saigon with U.S. officials, cautioning them: "The United States must make Diem reform or get rid of him...."

Ambassador Nolting, on instructions from Washington, urged Diem to conciliate. But Diem, who seemed to have slid into a trance, refused to retreat even privately from his contention that the Veitcong had caused the Hue incident....

(p. 281) As Diem procrastinated, the Buddhists burst a bombshell. On the morning of June 11, a motorcade pulled up at a busy Saigon intersection and an elderly Buddhist monk climbed out of one of the cars. He sat down on the asphalt and crossed his legs as other monks and nuns encircled him. One of them doused him with gasoline while another ignited him with a lighter. He pressed his palms together in prayer as a sheet of flame the color of his orange robe enveloped him.... By the time an ambulance arrived, the old man had fallen over, still burning as the fire consumed his flesh. Only his heart remained intact.

A photograph of the grisly spectacle leaped off every front page in the world the next morning. Buddhist militants had tipped off Malcolm Browne, an Associated Press correspondent, who arrived with a camera. They also handed reporters copies of a biography of the suicide, Quang Duc, a sixty-six-year-old monk who had been in the Buddhist clergy since the age of fifteen. The document included his last words, a "respectful" plea to Diem to show "charity and compassion" to all religions....

Repeated American entreaties failed to shake Diem's stubbornness... [M]ore Buddhist monks went up in flames.... Madame Nhu became increasingly shrill, which only exacerbated the crisis. The self-immolations were a "barbeque," she said, and told one interviewer, "Let them burn, and we shall clap our hands."

Submitted by lambert on

... is not a character flaw though i think we may say this guy was no buddhist.

comparison to irs guy very apt -- his issue was rents oddly enough.

on julia's point, get care he needs, yes, but -- politics often medicalized. here a marginal person slips over the edge. the edge is personal, political, financial, economic + perhaps a "shock." there but for the grace of ....

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

If you read through some of the thread over there, there are a lot of dismissive comments but there are several which lionize the guy and quite a few submitted by people who have been caught up in family court for reasons unrelated to domestic violence but who identify with Ball.

Apparently Ball was involved with a father's rights organization. There are a lot of those organizations and they seem to be populated by passionate people, some of whom seem to be able to make compelling cases that they have been nothing but victims of the system.

A lot of this has been little more than background noise for me over the years, but Ball's actions have managed to make me give some thought about these issues, at least a moment's worth.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

Here's a grown man who sees nothing wrong with smacking a 4 year old child in the mouth-either he's sick, or he's just plain evil. I prefer to grant him some leeway and think he's got a mental health issue. In any event, the cascade of problems that resulted from that act (and I don't believe for a minute his wife's excuse she "was threatened by a counsellor" for calling the cops, I'm sure he was a violent bully before that, and she managed to deflect his anger at her with that statement) resulted in increasingly dysfunctional reactions, and he became consumed with defending his (untenable) position, lashing out at the people who were trying to help him. His "slipping over the edge" was greased by his obstinate refusal to seek help, and his obsessive search for validation, which he found in one of those MRA groups, thus making his personal failings a "political" one. He reminds me of nothing more than the all-too-frequent "courthouse shooter", or "workplace killer" that we see in the news, it's only luck that he chose to hurt himself rather than others.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

I think this comment that you wrote says even more about you than this person's suicide note said about them.*

I am utterly in awe that you could make so many incredible leaps of faith and unfounded assumptions/accusations, based purely on absolutely no evidence whatsoever. You have no idea whether what he even said he did was fabricated! It was in a freaking SUICIDE NOTE! Apparently, his framing his suicide in a political manner offended you so much, that you had to likewise frame his suicide in a political manner! So you are just as guilty of doing exactly what you are accusing him of doing, although one fact at least is known, and that is that he lit himself on fire. An act often associated with mental illness, for which you have no compassion for and for which instead you have utter contempt.

Pardon me if I strongly hope you are NOT elected.

Unbelievable.

* Oh, and yes, this topic is a thread derailment, but you sometimes learn very interesting things in a derailment.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

My post was in response to lambert's statement that perhaps his problem was "medicalized", rather than political in nature, when I mentioned his signs of mental illness, one of which was promoting arson and murder to "fix" the problems in our society, and I called out our society for the criminalization of many mental health problems. I don't know if he did perform or say any of the things he posted, but apparently taking what he wrote at face value as a sign of some derangement, followed by his self-immolation is not evidence enough that he was ill, as I've said? I do feel that many MRA's are "politicizing" DV cases, and framing them in ways that dismiss women and children's exposure to DV, and it is sad that he found some validation for his feelings there. I'm not sure how any of this makes me a person without compassion, or holds mentally ill people in contempt. It's true I see the results of DV frequently in my line of work, so perhaps I'm not seeing the issue clearly?

Submitted by dirac on

Thanks. Forgot about this--I've read it before and this totally slipped my mind. Although that doesn't necessarily change my opinion of the relative maturities of each immolation. One (in Vietnam) could even be considered movement politics, another is, well IMO, something else.

mjames's picture
Submitted by mjames on

How does one get a cut lip from a slap in the face?

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

but since abusers tend to minimize the effects of their actions, I have to wonder if it wasn't worse than he describes it.

Anyway, 1000+ Julia for so clearly rejecting the pathos narrative here. From my (thankfully) narrow exposure to father's rights groups, they're pretty scary. And not above twisting the facts across the board to burke up their arguments, esp. around DV.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Not a useful starter on any topic, including the nature of goodbyes, cruelty, or the world.

Mental illness presents in many ways, and I don't want this to sound dismissive or overstate the obvious, but isn't not making good, coherent sense, as well as, you know, actually lighting yourself on fire, something that the pros (which Julia portrays herself as) would call "diagnostic"?

Frankly, getting involved in a discussion with the mentally unbalanced on any serious topic whatsoever, or using them as an example of the opposite side of any argument, is not compelling.

Arguing with a suicide victim seems even more one-sided, the rebuttal being non-existent....

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

1. The original post by CMike used a quote that mentioned something "happening" to Mr.Ball, thus implying he was still extant. In addition the post was truncated, with excerpts of what was a much longer piece. The excerpted version appeared to be a classis apologia for DV, such as one sees from many abusers and MRA's, and did not appear to be incoherent at all. Although there was a pic posted of a monk in flames at the end, there could have been many ways to intepret the reason for that, and since his self-immolation wasn't mentioned there was no reason for me to think he had done so (especially as it is such a rare event).
2. Upon skimming his much longer, full statement, it became abundantly clear that this person was very dysfunctional, and appeared to be mentally ill. I said as much, and stated that it would appear our system failed him. I was also concerned about his violent rhetoric, which in addition to his description of the assault on his child showed some classic signs of DV perpetrators, and here's my full statement after reading it:

I broke down and skimmed the "last statement" (I have a life, so I couldn't bother reading this overwrought and very lengthy tome thoroughly), and in it, he calls for fire-bombing buildings? My potential constituents, hopefully, will not call for arson and murder as an answer to their problems, rather, a Green and peaceful one, such as Tim DeChristopher attempted. To compare the two is very troubling to me, and I would hope that other minds, beautiful or not, would recoil in horror at such attempts. Mr. Ball was obviously seriously mentally ill when he self-immolated, judging by his writing, and was most probably sick at the time he assaulted his child. He refused counselling, and spiralled deeper into denial and paranoia, and I am sad that our "system" failed him in that it couldn't make him undergo treatment and improve his mental status, like many others who are currently in our criminal justice system. But I am thankful he didn't hurt anyone else, and I hope that more people who react to stress by directing anger and violence towards others can get the treatment they need.

3. In addition his writings showed a very defensive, angry person, who refused help and was looking for validation for his actions, which most certainly did not help his situation.
4. Lambert's reponse to my comment made mention of the fact that I was possibly "medicalizing" a political problem, and my response to him was that I felt that Mr. Ball's medical problem was being "politicized", (and it is now being used by any number of MRA-type groups to push back against "feminist" DV laws), and that type of rhetoric probably didn't help Mr. Ball's situation. It certainly isn't shedding any light on the very severe problems we have with DV.
5. I don't see where anything I've said consisted of "arguing with a suicide victim".
I am having a difficult time understanding why I am being attacked so personally, with such strong invective and even smearing my political career. Phrases such as "projecting much", accusing me of a "lack of compassion" and being "contemptuous", hoping I don't get elected, and even sneeringly refering to me as a self-portrayed "pro" reflect an incredible amount of anger at what I wrote. I hope that this, perhaps clearer, explanation of the timeline of this thread may shed light on my position, but in any event, i have said all I'm going to say.

Submitted by lambert on

The guy is a mess, no question, and the system did fail him.

What I was trying to get at was the idea that people get marginalized for many reasons all of which operate simultaneously and reinforce each other; they're "overdetermined." In general, I prefer "both/and" to "either/or". In particular, note that the financial hole ("None of you are middle class any more") includes health insurance. So in a more humane society, things might not have reached this point. (For example, surely single payer would make it easier for a DV vicitim to move?)

This is not the same kind of politicization as the men's rights movement exploiting the event.

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

that a lot of the reason there's so much anti-government sentiment out there is because when people hear the word "regulation" they're thinking of the local health inspector hassling the small business man who's trying to run a diner or some zoning official who won't let you add onto your house.

All of a sudden I'm wondering if there aren't a whole lot more people out there feeling aggrieved over family court matters than I ever realized. When they think about matters of government and politics, they are thinking about something completely off my radar screen.

Up thread Aeryl mentioned "MRA crap" and Libertarianism and the best guess I could come up with for those letters in that context was the Massachusetts Rifle Association. (Turns out there is one.) I didn't think that was right so I googled MRA and didn't find anything more relevant sounding. I went to dictionary dot com and couldn't find anything there. I doubled back and and googled MRA and "fathers" and eventually found a link to the "Men's Rights" page at Wikipedia.

Over the years I've heard about those celebrated palimony suits. And every now and then I'd see some story being told by a gleeful ex- about some mother being brought back to a state in handcuffs for defying a court order and running off with their children. Anyway, when I read Tom Ball's Last Statement I saw some big numbers in there about the size of the population affected by these issues and I got to thinking that even if he's off by an order of magnitude there are still a lot more people out there who must be more focused on family court matters than the future of Social Security than I had realized.

(JuliaWilliams is right. I failed in my first comment to make clear what issues I intended to raise. I had read Ball's entire lengthy statement which discusses both his legal and bureaucratic travails and the number of people he thought were facing ruin from these matters. When I began pasting in parts of his statement in my comment I realized I was going overboard length-wise so I ended up not including enough of his text to hint at the points I was raising. As a result, I think it is fair to say that JuliaWilliams was responding to my comment, not the story to which I was linking.

Also fair to say, I think, is that all aspects of these issues are quite emotional for most people to talk about.)

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

JuliaWilliams writes:

The original post by CMike used a quote that mentioned something "happening" to Mr.Ball...

In my defense, that was a quote which I placed quotation marks around, indented, and in which I embedded a link to the source. It wasn't about Mr. Ball specifically, rather it is spoken in a play about one Willy Loman, the central character in "Death of a Salesman." The line in the middle of it, which is echoed at the end of the passage, that "attention must be paid," was one which was quite familiar to a lot of people -- as recently as, I would now guess, thirty years ago.

[Loman, nothing subtle there.]

Submitted by lambert on

... though of course I got "attention must be paid," and then checked that link. So the intro seemed a little oblique, thought I got it after a bit.